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Review: different psychotherapies have comparable effects on adult depression

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Question: How effective are different psychotherapeutic interventions for depression in adults when compared with each other?

Outcomes: Depression symptoms post-treatment, measured using standardised self-report or observer-rated tools.


Design: Systematic review and network meta-analysis.

Data sources: A database of randomised controlled trials (RCTs) of psychotherapeutic interventions, developed through search of PubMed, PsycINFO, EMBASE and the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials from 1966 to November 2012. This was supplemented by hand search of reference lists of identified studies.

Study selection and analysis: RCTs comparing the effects of a psychotherapeutic intervention versus another psychotherapeutic intervention or control (waitlist, usual care or placebo) in adults with current depression or depression symptoms. Psychotherapeutic interventions could be delivered through any format (eg, individual, group, face-to-face or internet-based) but had to have a focus on communication between patient and therapist (or bibliotherapy supported by a therapist). RCTs either combining or comparing psychotherapeutic interventions with pharmacological treatment or non-psychotherapeutic interventions were excluded. Psychotherapies were classified as interpersonal therapy (IPT), cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), behavioural activation (ACT), problem-solving …

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  • Sources of funding: Swiss National Science Foundation.


  • Competing interests None.